On Wedneday I launched, with Minister for Communications, Denis Naughton, the Mobile Broadband Taskforce Implementation Review for 2017 and the 2018 Action Plan.
Some of the actions achieved include
- the establishment of Broadband Officers at every city and county council
- the identification of mobile phone coverage blackspots and solutions for these
- the increase of ducting along the national road network
- the identification of State-owned assets that can house telecoms infrastructure
- the reform of planning legislation to help speed up improvements to existing telecoms infrastructure.
There are 34 actions set out for 2018.
Speech by Minister Seán Kyne to the Launch of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce Implementation Review 2017
Dia daoibh agus fáilte romhaibh cuig seoladh tuarascála na madine inniu. Ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a ghabháil libh as freastal ar an gcruinniú, agus as an obair go léir atá déanta agaibh go dtí seo i gcur chun cinn na mbeart a aithníodh i dTuairisc an Tascfhórsa.
Oibríonn an Tascfhórsa Fón Póca agus Leathanbhanda go maith leis an bPlean Náisiunta Leathanbhanda trí dlús a chur le feidhmiú tráchtála leathanbhanda ard luais agus chun an tseirbhís ríthábhachtach seo a chuir ar fáil do dhaoine agus do ghnólachtaí faoin tuaithe in Éirinn.
Soláthróidh seirbhísí feabhsaithe fón póca agus leathanbhanda tacaíocht thábhachtach do phobail is tionscail i gceantair tuaithe.
I am delighted to welcome you all here today to launch, with Minister Naughten, the implementation review 2017 on the 40 actions contained in the mobile phone and broadband Taskforce action plan published in December 2016.
The sectors represented here today from Government Departments and Agencies, local Government, the Telecommunications Regulator, and industry, are testament to the collaborative and proactive approach taken by all stakeholders to identify immediate solutions to broadband and mobile phone coverage deficits and to agree how best to tackle the barriers to delivering better services.
At the outset, we set out to address a wide range of issues impacting on broadband and mobile services. We identified practical measures to assist in improving overall the quality of telecommunication services to the people and businesses of Ireland. The progress outlined in the review demonstrates that we have taken a significant step forward in a unified manner to address these issues.
While I am completely aware of the frustrations being felt across Ireland, particularly in rural areas, around the lack of reliable and effective services, I am confident that the progress made in the past twelve months will start to pay real dividends in the delivery of services to consumers.
The delivery of actions in the Taskforce Report have led to improved planning processes – reducing the time, effort and expense previously associated with these processes and allowing industry deploy infrastructure in a more productive manner.
One of the most positive things to emerge from this process is the extent to which bilateral engagement between key stakeholders has fostered a strong spirit of co-operation.
By working together, and adopting a more joined up approach by Government, to firstly examine the issues and, secondly proactively work towards solutions, the implementation group has delivered tangible results. Every action holder has made a strong contribution to addressing the issues that are impacting on the delivery of a high quality telecoms network.
Industry has welcomed and embraced the work of the implementation group and are actively contributing to delivery of a number of actions. The positive level of engagement between Transport Infrastructure Ireland and the telecoms industry has resulted in the identification of a number of suitable sites for the accommodation of telecoms mast infrastructure which will lead to improved coverage along the motorway network.
In terms of positives from an industry perspective, I understand the funding support from my Department for the assignment of Broadband Officers in all 31 local authorities has been very much welcomed. This is an area which we have committed to examining and potentially expanding as part of our 2018 work programme. The strong degree of bilateral engagement which continues to take place between Broadband Officers and the telecoms industry is already serving as a practical mechanism to identify and resolve issues as they arise.
Another welcome development has been the introduction on a single online application system for road opening applications which has greatly reduced the complexity of applying for road opening licences.
In terms of planning, we are set to see greater efficiencies in our planning requirements as a result of the revision of the Exempted Developments Regulations, leading to enhanced delivery of telecoms services. We have also committed to consistently reviewing these exemption regulations to ensure that planning regulations keep pace with technology developments which evolve at such a rapid rate.
A mobile phone blackspots mapping exercise, led by my Department and Minister Naughten’s Department, is bringing together local authorities and mobile phone operators to identify practical solutions to improve mobile phone coverage and quality throughout the country.
From a consumer perspective, the increased availability of information by ComReg around the choice of packages and handsets is enabling consumers to make informed choices on the right product and services to meet their needs.
The development of local digital strategies in all local authority areas will enable the design of a strategy tailored to their locality and allow local communities make full use of the enhanced network when the National Broadband Plan is in place.
The National Stakeholder Forum held in October was a very positive event, bringing together key stakeholders to openly discuss issues impacting on the rollout of telecommunications infrastructure, and to suggest new recommendations for the Taskforce Implementation Group to adopt in order to accelerate the provision of improved services to consumers.
Communication is fundamental. It’s only through communication that we know where the problems are, what the solutions look like and what needs to be done to implement those solutions. As with all technology, the area of telecommunications is evolving and developing at a marvellous rate which is why communication between action holders is so important for us so that we can all build on the progress achieved to date.
In order to build on the progress made to date which is summarised in the review, we are embarking on a 2018 work programme. The implementation group, in consultation with stakeholders, has identified 34 actions to progress in 2018. The work programme incorporates a small number of items carried over from 2017 for completion and a range of new measures.
Some of the actions are the natural next step to progress achieved in 2018 – for example – all local authorities will be involved in identifying mobile phone blackspots and solutions to improve coverage, expanding the role of the Broadband Officer, and commitments by Transport Infrastructure Ireland on an expanded ducting programme.
We have also added new actions – for example – improving communication structures between key stakeholders, monitoring progress on the implementation of the national framework for road opening licences, and exploring the feasibility of developing a standardised policy for accessing and utilising State assets for the deployment of telecoms infrastructure.
Announced on Friday, (the National Planning Framework) highlights the importance of high capacity and reliable digital connectivity, not just for economic competitiveness but also for sustainable living in all parts of the country. Minister Naughten and I are completely committed to working with all stakeholders to remove obstacles that impact on the delivery of high quality telecoms services to consumers.
I would like to thank all action holders and stakeholders involved in the delivery of actions set out in the Taskforce Report and encourage you to continue to maintain that progress and keep up the momentum. I look forward to a continued collaborative approach between all stakeholders and to removing all obstacles in our mission to providing a world class telecommunications infrastructure to every premises in the country that will help promote balanced regional economic and social development.